Monday, 30 July 2012

Rosemary and Courgette Quiche

Since I did these curd tarts a few days ago, I'm feeling a bit doughy. Already before in my life I had such phases. I need to feel the flour and eggs and butter and whatever between my fingers. So I have to do something with a dough. There was not the call for sweet things nor was it for pizza ( I luv it, though). Somehow the willingness to what for a relative long time to get my food evaded me. 
There were some courgettes loosely lying around and I wanted to use them. Lately I read on some other luvly blogs about some recipes, like courgette chips or fritters, but somehow I wasn't in the mood for that either. However, from that you already see, that there are a lot of options on what to do with courgettes.
A little note on the side. You can really spoil a lot for your kids, when you prepare certain vegetables in a wrong and tasteless way. In the past at home we used to get some kind of mashed over-cooked courgette something with potatoes and minced meat. My brother didn't survive that. No, he just doesn't like courgette anymore. That is the point. I think you are getting a hint of what I am trying to say. 
Whatsoever, this has nothing to do with the now following: Rosemary and Courgette Quiche.

That was, what my mind was on ... somehow. Now I would like to tell you, that I went into the kitchen getting my gear ready ... hat, leather jacket and bullwhip ...

... but I didn't! No, that was not how things turned out, although I went about with the recipe again in this Indy kind of manner - making this up as I go (you might remember a certain cake). Nevertheless, see what happens ...

250 g flour
125 g butter
One egg yolk
A pinch of salt
About 5 tablespoons of cold water
250 g of creme fraiche or double cream
A few sprigs of rosemary
3 eggs
One medium sized courgette
50 - 100 g of cheddar cheese (or different - according to your liking)
Salt and pepper

Method (kind of):
First the doughy part: sift the flour into a bowl and then use your finger tips to knead in the butter until you have a nice crumble. You could use a machine as well, but hey ... it's more fun using your hands, feeling the flour and eggs and ... well, you know. After all are our hands the best tools we have got. So, go and appreciate it!
Add a pinch of salt, the egg yolk and the water, just enough to make it really doughy. Wrap it  in cling film and put it in the fridge for about the time you need to prepare the rest.
Get yourself a decent quiche tin form or something like that, coating it with some oil.
Then take your lazy courgette and have a good look at it. Is it lovely? Do you like it? Whatsoever, it has to die. That is the way of the courgette anyway. Cut part of the courgette into slices. We want to put it on top of the quiche. So make careful calculations as to how many slice you might need. I did, but there was an error somehow. Three slices didn't fit on in the way I wanted it.
The remaining part of the courgette you grate into a bowl and mix it together with the cream, the three eggs, enough salt and pepper, and the finely chopped leaves of rosemary.
Now back to the dough. This lump of dough somehow has to be fitted into your tin form. You could try rolling it out and then ... or you might find another way. I did a mix of it. Judge for yourselves whether the result is satisfying.

As long as you have enough dough going up the sides of your form, things will be alright.
By now you should have your oven going at 200°C so that you can pre-bake your dough for 15 minutes.
Remove your pre-baked quiche from the oven and pour in the cream and courgette mixture and place those slices of courgette on top of it. Finally grate over your cheese and get your quiche back to the oven for 25-30 minutes until the cheese gets colour.
Afterwards there is one challenge that remains. Removing the quiche from your form and get it on a plate in one piece. Then you can use your machete to cut the quiche into individual pieces and enjoy it with a simple salad on the side.

For a brief moment I was tempted to add some chili to the quiche filling. Sadly I didn't do it. Or maybe not sadly, but sure this would have given the whole thing an extra punch. Without the chili I was not 100% convinced. On the other hand some extra grated cheese in the cream mixture would have done the job as well. Yet, there might as well be the slight chance, that I did have too much chili in the past. Who knows!?
A good thing is, that courgettes are in season at the moment, although I did never succeed in having some in my own garden. Somehow, they don't like me, but I like them.
Therefore this post is also a fitting entry for the blog challenge Simple and in Season from Ren Behan and Fleur McCrone.

I don't know, why I haven't thought about that before. Thanks for the reminder. It's always good to know, what is in season locally ...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Shadows of the Past - Random Recipes #18

Time! What is it? It has no beginning and no ending. There was always a time before and there will always be a time after. It's like with numbers, you can always add a zero and you have a higher number. 
Time always goes on and in one direction. Things you have done in the past are there fixed, not to be changed, for all eternity. After all you are not having a flying DeLorean to take you back and fix things, nor can you use a wormhole to achieve the same thing. The past simply is gone and often this is good. Above that, for some it is even better, it doesn't crawl back on them.
Another thought about time, having to do with our perception. When you are young and your parents tell you, we go out to have some ice-cream in one hour, that can feel like ages. Later in life, you think you have ages to do certain things ... until reality hits you right in the face and tells you time is up.
In fact time is nearly up for July's blog challenge of Dom at Belleau Kitchen - Random Recipes #18 - Something a little different ...

Random Recipes #18 - July

So what is different? There is not going to be a random recipe this month. It is just books.
Well, I have a try. This is not going to be very organised. However, there is a main section of cookbooks, where more or less my latest books are ... hm ... they might have had some influence on my starting to blog. Did you know, that my blog is out here already for over one and a half year. I even missed my first blog anniversary. OK, I had my blog, but did have no post for the entire first year. Due to this, my real first anniversary is still in the future.

I would like it to look a bit different, or to have all my books in one place, but as for now, it didn't materialise and I have no hope that it ever will ... on it's own. That's were the trouble starts. If it would be a bit easier to get rid of things you actually don't need, there would be a lot more space. From time to time I have a try. Just today I went to the cellar to see whether I find anything I simply can get rid of without any problems. 
While doing that and digging through a box with old manuals, photos and notebooks, I stumbled upon an old notebook with most of the pages empty. A tiny fraction of that book, though, contained a few scribblings. It was a kind of a diary I must have tried to write for a few month about ten years ago. There were quite some negative thoughts and also some resolutions to change things and get more positive.
Well, I thought, little has changed, but it really should! I still hope I can manage. Should I really be able to do it, then for sure also, the cookbooks will be in order and together at one place.

It will not be like this. There a few more cookbooks. In reality, I'm not even able to properly read those on the picture. I brought them back from holiday. I thought it would be nicer to get a cookbook then something you absolutely totally will not need and will lie around and collect dust. With the books I have at least tried to use them.

Still there are more spots, where to find some cookbooks. Those are in the kitchen. Seems to make sense. Below that is the stove. Among the books there is also my oldest cookbook, the one about Mexican food. That was the one that started me going on the cooking road.

Still in the kitchen there are a few more cookbooks and when I think again about it, the kitchen might not be the best place to have the cookbooks. After all when you need one, you can get it and place it on the table for reference anyway. You don't need all at your quick disposal like you need pans or knives or bowls.
Right this moment, I don't favour any of my cookbooks over another, although I like cookbooks that really work and well, pictures are always helpful for the imagination. Yes, I like also to read a bit of a story along with the recipe. That means I should do a bit more reading again ...
... but not until I am finished here. I only hope I don't have inherited any depressive tendencies from my parents. Whatsoever, I guess, it is up to each individual, what he does with the available time ... and life ... and opportunities ... you never know!
What would life be without cooking, food, blogging and ...

I don't want to know!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

All in one Cheesy Yorkshire Fish Pie (and more) for Best of British

What a beautiful day today. The sun is shining brightly and no cloud is to be seen on a blue sky. It's 35°C or more. Just a perfect day ... to be in the kitchen and do a lot of baking and cooking. So ... pump up the sound system and put some summer music on.
There would still be plenty of time to prepare a post for the current Best of British challenge, which is taking us this month to Yorkshire. The Best of British challenge is hosted this month by Karen from Lavender & Lovage. The whole event is sponsored by The Face of New World Appliances. Have a look at London Unattached from Fiona as well. After a lot of research and some extra motivation I'm ready now. In detail that means we are having some fish: Cheesy Yorkshire Fish Pie.

However, before we come to that, some other thoughts. Yorkshire! What comes to your mind, when you think about it? You can leave a comment and tell me. 
My friend Stuart, always a nice person ... that is if you have humour and can look beyond the obvious. He is from Yorkshire, but not living there anymore. At home he has some coasters with the Yorkshire motto on it:

"'Ear all, see all, say nowt;
Eyt all, sup all, pay nowt;
And if ivver the does owt fer nowt -
Do it fer thissen."

What, you don't understand that? I think you have weans and mays ... oh sorry ... confused the letters ... you have means and ways to find out. Enough of all that! We like to concentrate on some food now.
First of all, I got a few things from the garden, some herbs and those here:

You will see them later again. A few other things I still needed to get from the shop or the farmer's market for luckily that one was today. Unfortunately the fish stall wasn't there today. No worries, I just went to the local fish monger, which is very close by. He had to advertise his next door restaurant as well, which in fact is acclaimed by the Guide Michelin as well. Maybe I check it another day, whether that is still valid. For now, I just got some ling fillet.
Having all ingredients ready we could have a go at the fish pie now, but ... somehow I didn't feel quite satisfied with just doing one Yorkshire recipe. In order to keep me going I decided to start off with some Fat Rascals - quick and simple (if you do it right).

Fat Rascals
350 g of self-raising flour (if you do it right)
175 g of butter
50 g of sultanas
50 g of dried cranberries
50 g of blanched almonds
50 g of amarena cherries
One (poor) beaten egg
50 ml of milk (or less)

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the butter. Crumble it together with the tips of your finger (isn't it luvly to get your hands dirty?). Then ... simply throw in all other ingredients apart from the milk and make a relatively dry dough. Add only as much milk as you need or it gets to wet (and you are not doing it right).
Form about ten round, two centimetre thick objects and place them on a baking tray, which you have lined with baking parchment. Bake the whole lot at 200°C for about 20 minutes.

Oh, I must have done something wrong, for I have more then 10 ...

It's best then to continue with the main thing, The Cheesy Yorkshire Fish Pie!

What you don't need:
A ringing phone
Someone knocking at the door
A wounded finger

What you need (in order of appearance - roughly):
400 g of white-fleshed fish
275 ml of goats' milk (or other)
275 ml of water
One lemon cut into four wedges
A handful of parsley - chopped
Salt, Pepper
700 g of potatoes - peeled
A knob of butter
More goats' milk
100 g blue veined cheese (preferably Yorkshire Blue - that is if you have easy access)
A splash of olive oil
One onion - finely chopped
A few carrots (depending on size - see above) - chopped
Two spring onions - chopped into rings
A hand full of peas
A few sprigs of thyme - of course only the leaves of it
A bunch of chives
A bit of cheddar - just making sure it's cheesy enough

How you could go about:
If you like or need you can cut the fish into smaller pieces. Mix the 275 ml water and 275 ml goats' milk in a pan and add the fish, the lemon and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Bring it to the boil and then let it simmer for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile boil your potatoes until they are ... eh ... mashable.
Meanwhile meanwhile sauté the onion, spring onions, carrots, and peas with the olive oil.
When the potatoes are mashable ... do just that, together with a knob of butter, the blue cheese, and a bit of goats' milk.
Once you have all that jobs done we can put things together in a 30 x 30 cm oven proof dish. 
First, we put the fish. You can discard the lemon and most of the cooking milk-water.

Add the herbs - that is chives and thyme leaves.

Yes, you are right again. The difference between the last two photos is only tiny. Let us go on then and add the mashed potatoes and grate some cheddar over it.

Done? Put it under the grill - just the way it is - until it gains some colour.

That should serve four people or if greedy ... less.

However, if you serve some pudding afterwards, you might also manage having a greedy person for the meal.

Oh, how luvly, a curd tart. Had to do that one as well.

Mini Cranberry Curd Tart
250 g of flour
125 g of butter
One egg yolk
Cold water
75 g of brown sugar
Two teaspoons of allspice
One lemon
500 g curd cheese
Three eggs
75 g of dried cranberries

The flour goes to a bowl again and the butter is crumbled in the same way as with the fat rascals. Then comes the egg yolk and as much water as you need to make things hold together. Just make sure you don't work it too much. In fact, it is best not to knead it, but somehow push things together. Wrap it in cling film and chill for 15 minutes.
Then have four small tart tins ready and line each one with an equal part of the dough. Cover with cling film and chill for another 15 minutes.
Whilst that is happening mix the sugar and the allspice in a bowl. Then you add the three beaten eggs, the cranberries, the curd cheese, and the zest and the juice of the lemon.
Whisk it all together.
When the chilling time is over, divide the filling between your four tarts and bake for 45 minutes at 190°C. The short-crust pastry should start to get brown and the filling should set.
Once your ready tarts have cooled down a bit you can serve them - great would be these days with some ice-cream (argh ... why didn't I think about this before).
You could have a cuppa as well ... Yes, I know, it is 35°C, but ... no worries.

So far our excursion into Yorkshire food. I leave you with some impressions of York ...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Wrap it ... if you can - Lebanese Tomato and Feta Wrap with Harissa

I'm home again after work - home sweet home - whatever! I'm hungry. Somehow I'm not so much in the mood for proper cooking - whatever!
This week I went again to my favourite Turkish shop to get some red chillies. While there I grab some Lebanese flat breads as well. I could do for a while - maybe five or ten minutes - with just eating the plain breads with nothing added at all. After that, though, it gets boring and something with more flavour would be nice.
By the way I'm not so much focused at the moment. So preparing food can end in just throwing some things together. For lunch I just whipped up the ingredients I would use in a nice Phở, but ... without stock - I used chilli sauce instead.

Back now to the Lebanese flat bread. I like to have a wrap with it. Therefore I just take one of those breads and spread some harissa on it. I got it from that same aforementioned shop. Harissa is a seasoning paste containing cumin, coriander seeds, garlic, salt, olive and most importantly chillies. So we be generous. We want it to burn. It helps sometimes burning your sorrows away. At least you have something else to worry about.

Just throw in some erratically sliced tomatoes and some feta cheese. If you feel like having more seasoning, why not try some oregano or thyme or even some more garlic or ... that is if you are a totally crazy weirdo ... add some more chilli (I didn't do it - that means there is still a bit of hope). You might even drizzle some lemon or lime over it.

Now wrap the whole thing - if you can. I succeeded only the first try, the second one unwrapped itself again. Whatsoever, it tasted acceptably and I might even recommend to have a go at it, that is if you like the above mentioned ingredients.
If you want to be on the safe side, you can serve it with some yogurt on the side.
What else is going on? I bought an avocado as I said I would. Now initiated the process of growing an avocado tree.

However, the avocado is not just for having an avocado tree. Of course, it is also for eating. But what? Leafing through my cookbooks didn't bring any satisfying results and I didn't want to make guacamole again. After all my Lebanese wrap was satisfied with harissa already.
Then I remembered the Vietnamese Supper club with Uyen for the food revolution day this year. I had some avocado sorbet there. A recipe you can find on Uyen's blog.
Again we have a minor obstacle, not having the stated coconut juice at hand. No worries, we find a substitute.

I'll have to wait till tomorrow to find out whether it worked. I  will go to the freezer and beat it once more before I retire to bed. Somehow I'm a bit lacking of sleep. Last night it was only about four hours of sleep. I hope I don't have too many more 'sleepless' nights!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Quick Mexican snack - Quesadillas with Guacamole

At times I have a longing for Mexican food. However, there is no Mexican restaurant nearby. No worries! No big deal! Just do it yourself - as so often. Besides that making quesadillas is dead simple and doesn't take much time.  
If you have wheat tortillas, guacamole, and some nice cheese (cheddar maybe) it is really assembled in no time.
Heat some oil in a pan and place one of the tortillas in it. Spread your guacamole over it.

Bravely go on and grate some lovely cheese over it. Be generous - that is if you like cheese as much as I do.
Aftewards we go on and place a second tortilla on it. It's really that simple. 
Once the bottom tortilla has turned brown (if it starts to smell strangely in your kitchen, you waited too long), carefully turn the tortillas around to finish the other side. 
That would be it. However, somehow I have the feeling that there should be more. 
Of course, you can prepare the wheat tortillas yourself. Just make sure, they get big enough.
As to the guacamole, it would be really lovely, if you do it yourself. It's also quite easy and trouble free to make.
Just take a ripe avocado and half it. Remove the stone (by the way I just found an interesting article, I want to try next time I have an avocado here: planting an avocado tree - always like experimenting and I simply love watching how things grow). When you have removed the stone, you can spoon out the fruit and mash it up in a small bowl. You mix it then with a finely chopped onion, chilli, salt, pepper, two tomatoes, one clove of garlic and a bit of vinegar and oil. That's all!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Raiders of the Lost Cake - ChoPeaPan-Cake

There comes a time in the life of a man, where he has to go nuts … Wait! That is nuts!
Let’s start again! Sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do, even if it is nuts … Hm, that sounds nuts, too.
Under certain circumstances things might just go nuts … argh … forget it. It’s all nuts anyway.
What I really wanted to say is: It’s time to prepare some nice sweet food and while doing that use some nuts, because I want it that way … and … read right to the end to find out.
Some time ago I read about a cake with pancakes and just kept the information in mind. You never know when things might come in handy. Well, today was that day. I was in the mood for a cake, but not really for the process of proper baking. On top of that, I still didn’t go shopping and was once again left with what was … eh … left at home in the storage.
This now leads to our ChoPeaPan-Cake. 

Let me say just one more thing before I start.
Or well, put in a little story again. You might know the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy has recovered the Ark and lost it. Now he is free again and the Germans want to get the Ark away with a truck. Here goes the dialogue between Indy and Sallah. Indy: “Meet me at Omar’s. be ready for me. I’m going after that truck.” Sallah: “How?” Indy: “I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go.”

In that spirit I like to go on here, making it up as I go. This is more or less a live post. It is the first time I try this cake. It might or might not be nice. We will see later. If not, this recipe might be usable with some adjustments. I try to include suggestions if necessary.
What you might need:
One 250 ml cup of spelt flour
The same cup filled with milk
One whatever sized free range (if desired organic) well, eh … egg
A pinch of salt
One tablespoon of cocoa powder
100 g of dark chocolate
100 g of butter
2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar
50 g or so salted or unsalted peanut butter (as you wish)
As many peanuts as it takes
Oil for frying
How you might do it:
Make a pancake batter using the flour, the milk, the egg, a pinch of salt, the cocoa powder and one tablespoon of vanilla sugar. Beat it all like nuts.
Meanwhile heat a drop of oil in a small pan. If you want a bigger cake, you might have to double the amounts and use a bigger pan respectively.
Before you begin frying your cocoa pancakes in the pan, start to melt the chocolate together with the butter in a bowl above boiling water. Have it going? Good!
Now go for the pancakes. You should get four.
What I did then is, I finished one pancake, put it on a plate and started a new pancake. While that was happening, I spread some peanut butter on the ready pancake and scattered some peanuts on it.  
Then the next pancake, peanut butter, peanuts, pancake, peanut butter, peanuts and finishing off with the last pancake.  
When the chocolate has melted and looks shiny and silky, you can add the vanilla sugar and let the mass cool down a bit before you pour it over the layered pancakes.
Oh … there is a four legged visitor at the door. No problem! I still have a bit time for the dogs. I have got something nice for them as well. After all, that is what they always want … apart from love of course.  
hungry wolves
Since sufficient(?) time has passed, we can pour the chocolate over the pancakes and … end up with a cake swimming in a pool of chocolate (sorry, the photo with the swimming cake didn't work out - don't know, why I had just one shot).
So … off to the fridge with the cake and with me to the computer to write this (right here it becomes more live).
It has been one hour now. I go and have a look.
Not so bad, the chocolate solidified. That gives me the opportunity to transfer the cake to a fresh plate and start with scraping off and eating the chocolate sticking to the old plate. Yum yum – chocolaty and tasty! So our little experiment might have a happy ending.  
The ChoPeaPan-Cake could use some decoration. We still have some peanuts left we can place on top, doing it carefully.
I got on all peanuts safely, apart from one. Maybe you can spot it on the photo … or maybe not.    

In the end there is only one thing left to do: the taste check. After spending quite a little bit of time on that cake I can reward me with the final result. Or is it not a reward? Let’s see … or better say taste.
It took me some time to cut out a piece of cake for me and  to take some final photos.    
Now the final verdict:
I’m not quite so sure about the salty peanut butter. It tasted fine, but since I did use this one and not the other one I cannot judge what tastes better … hm … but I think it has it’s place. All in all it was not so sweet. You might want to experiment a bit with the amounts of sugar or the kind of chocolate you use – maybe a better quality chocolate would be useful here or even one with flavour – I would suggest a Milka chocolate with Daim pieces in it. I could imagine doing it that way and tweak the amount of sugar for the pancake batter might change a tasty treat into a divine one.
This is the point where you have to either trust my judgement or you have to do it as Indy says in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “There is only one way to find out.” Then he took the holy grail with water and had a drink from it.
Ah … that was quite and adventure Indy had there.
And a nutty adventure we had here as well indeed (even without a bullwhip, Fedora hat and leather jacket).
To be precise, this was a sweet adventure for the July Sweet Adventures Blog Hop – Nuts about Sweets – hosted by Nic from Dining with a Stud (Here you go! That is what I wanted to say in the beginning! Well, sometimes I can be a bit nuts!).
Why not have a go yourself or check out the other for sure lovely posts!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Fair Verona and Mini Mozzarella Penne with Rocket

There are some things in life, where cooking will not help. Situations come up and no matter how much chocolate you have, it will make no difference, the pain will not go away.
Anyway, I couldn't imagine, how chocolate or any other kind of edible thing would have made a difference here:

"Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend."
- Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, Act 1, Prologue

Well, the scene is set for tragedy. However, we shall not dwell on such thoughts for now.
Just coming back from the scene - fair Verona, Italy - what better could I do than having some pasta.

After all, one has to eat, no matter how you feel ... even if you don't want to at times, you will come back ...
Did I say something? Oh well, why not do some easy pasta. No shopping for the two past weeks, so I have to go with what is in the house. 
That leads us to Mini Mozzarella Penne with Rocket.
Having a pot ready with some olive oil marks the beginning. Finely slice three cloves of garlic and fry them gently in the oil until the fine odour of the garlic starts to rise up from the pot. To make things even more lovely as they start to unfold, we add a handful of freshly picked basil leaves to the pot.
Now we go on to pour in one 400 g tin of tomatoes and fill half the tin with water and put that in as well. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste and needs. Bring the contents of the pot to the boil and let it simmer.
After that we can focus our minds on the pasta. Use a sufficiently large pot to fill with water. Let the water have a lot of salt. Of course you can use a kettle to heat up the water before you put it to the pot.
Once the water is ready you only have to cook your 500g of pasta according to the instructions on the package (it took 12 minutes for me).
After that rinse the pasta whilst you catch up some of the cooking water. Mix this, your pasta, your sauce, and two handful of mini mozzarellas (or how much you like) together.
Plate it up and top with a handful of rocket leaves mixed with some basil leaves. Pour a bit of good olive oil over it and finish with some grated Parmesan.
I leave you now with this and some impressions of fair Verona.

Torre dei Lamberti
Arena di Verona
Romeo & Juliet in progress
Giardini Giusti
Lemon tree
Verona from above
"A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."


For more Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet have a look here: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.